The Food and Drug Administration lifted a 30-year ban yesterday that allows gay men to once again donate blood. The only catch is they can only give blood 12 months after their last sexual contact with another man.
The U.S. government came to the decision based on the latest science and research, which shows that an indefinite ban is not necessary to prevent transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The FDA has revised its policies on several occasions over the last decade, with this move their latest step.
“Ultimately, the 12-month deferral window is supported by the best available scientific evidence, at this point in time, relevant to the U.S. population,” Dr. Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s biologics division, said in a statement.
Though the ruling seems to be a step in the right direction, gay rights advocates still see the ruling as discriminatory.
“It is ridiculous and counter to the public health that a married gay man in a monogamous relationship can’t give blood, but a promiscuous straight man who has had hundreds of opposite sex partners in the last year can,” said Jared Polis, a Democratic congressman and co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
Darcy Stacy, the Human Rights Coalition Government Affairs Director, agreed.
“While it’s a step in the right direction toward an ideal policy that reflects the best scientific research, it still falls far short of a fully acceptable solution because it continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men.”
The FDA said its policies have helped reduce HIV transmission rates from blood transfusions from 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 1.47 million. They first proposed the lift on the ban in May, to mix results from the public.